Tag Archives: John Lennon

Images Of England Through Popular Music

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Images Of England Through Popular Music –
Class,Youth and Rock’n’Roll, 1955-1976
By Keith Gildart
Palgrave Macmillan – £15.99

[…] the Sex Pistols themselves were the personification of particular aspects of Englishness that could be found in working-class radicalism, humour and populism. They shared Orwell’s view that England remained ‘a land of snobbery and privilege, ruled largely by the old and the silly.’

The tension of class, authenticity, stardom and recognition were a constant source of tension between Lennon and McCartney in their formative years and throughout their subsequent career.

And so it came to pass that popular music as we once knew it turned into huge, regular dollops, of mere money-spinning horse manure.

Where once upon a time England actually had exciting, rebellious, inventive artists and rock’n’roll bands (The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie among many others), we now have far too many wailing tarts with microphones of whom all rather fancy themselves as Etta James; but are in fact, pure hogwash of the first degree (the ghastly Pixie Lott of whom, surely wails at the vanguard).

In essence, the country no longer has a music industry any more.

That there are but three main record companies left in London (Universal, Sony and Warner) should come as no surprise. They all subscribe subscribe to the ideology of Satan himself, Simon Cowell – which is to say, here today, gone tomorrow, who gives a toss about what it sounds like, so long as it generates money – and they all behave in such a way that is detrimental to music as we once knew. As depicted in this very readable book by Keith Gildart.

Its eight chapters capture something of a magical, bygone period in British music, a time when artists and bands weren’t being groomed by accountants, but by musical instinct (and in some instances, intellect).

Indeed, Images Of England Through Popular Music – Class,Youth and Rock’n’Roll, 1955-1976, not only traverses the musicality of said time period, but also the degree to which class and geography played a part: ”In the post-war period, North West England in particular became closely associated with popular music and produced a multiplicity of groups and solo artists. Some performers retained particularly northern traits in terms of accent, style, humour and an identification with the broader working-class that purchased their records and danced to their rhythms (‘Coal, Cotton and Rock’n’Roll’).

In three parts (‘Teddy Boy England,’ ‘Mod England’ and Glam/Punk England’), the book as a whole casts an intrinsically ideological net, which goes some way in deciphering how and why things came about the way they did.

A good example being John Lennon’s position within all of this, as addressed in the chapter ‘Liverpool, The Beatles and Cultural Politics: ”Lennon’s ambiguous position within the class structure of Liverpool was familiar to a generation of working and lower-middle class children who experienced social mobility through eduction, but retained an affiliation to aspects of working-class structure. His rebelliousness was rooted in his negative reaction to formal schooling and the class nature of the English education system […]. The division between rock’n’roll and jazz was demarcated through class lines in Liverpool and other English towns and cities. Some writers have tended to focus on Lennon’s art school experiences as his entry point into the more esoteric elements of American rock’n’roll […]. Yet they underestimate the resilience of class and locality in the roots of English popular music. Lennon personified the complexity of class identity with his bridging of both working and middle-class cultures.”

To say the above is a mere tip of the literary dissertation that this most worthy critique of (English) youth culture has to offer, is an understatement.

The more it unfolds, the more one is compelled to both read and investigate ever further.

David Marx

Everyday Stories

everyday

Everyday Stories
By Rachel Bowlby
Oxford University Press – £14.99

As the promotional material puts it: ‘Have you thought about how much of life goes missing from your memory? Many fantastic and special moments become blurred together after a while and it feels like life just rushes by, too fast for us to grasp,’ ‘Every moment is worth keeping,’ the publicity says at another point.

The above train of thought becomes ever increasingly evident as the years do indeed seem to hurtle by.

As John Lennon once sang: ‘So this is Christmas/And what what you done?/Another year over/And a new one just begun.”

Such a lyric, just like many sections of this book, might well jolt many a reader, or in Lennon’s case, listener, into the grim realisation that the older one gets, the shorter the years invariably become. Although such sociological pronouncement has been addressed by many a writer over the years, who, by way of their own submission, has had to wrestle with many a trajctorial overload of pristine truth(s).

Virginia Woolf comes to mind, whose own work is unsurprisingly brought to bear in Everyday Stories, where Rachel Bowlby quotes extensively near the beginning of the eighth chapter, ‘An Ordinary Mind on an Ordinary Day’: ”Look within and life, it seems, is very far from being ‘like this.’ Examine, for a moment, an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there […].

Like the 176 pages of this book as a whole (excluding Series Introduction, Bibliography and Index), much can, and ought to be gleaned from the above words; primarily that we need to endeavour to enjoy each and every moment. That is, before the ”evanescent or engraved […] everyday sharpness of steel” ceases to truly mean anything – just like it has for so many people.

So next time you decide to linger on your mobile phone for forty minutes or so – merely surfing amid the disposable wank sensation of atomic nothingness – think again.

Better still, read this thought provoking book.

David Marx

Paul McCartney – The Biography

mccarteny-the-biography

Paul McCartney – The Biography
By Philip Norman
Weidenfeld & Nicolson – £25.00

Having attended the premiere of The Beatles’ Eight Days A Week last Thursday, I couldn’t help but come away with a feeling of re-invigorated, inspired awe.

First off, there’s the relentless number of terrific songs, closely followed by the contagious sense of the fun and all encompassing, teenage induced mayhem. Then there’s the unavoidable sense of energy with which the four members of The Beatles performed – who, need we remind ourselves, were the same age as the all but manufactured, One Direction, during Beatlemania.

Indeed, there really is so much one could continue to write about Ron Howard’s documentation of the band’s period of live performance(s); most notably, the unquestionable abundance of high-octane, astonishing material.

But then there are the four individual Beatles themselves, each one of whom, to varying degrees admittedly, was responsible for making the Fab Four who and what they essentially were: the greatest band in the history of popular music. Period.

What also came across loud and exceedingly clear throughout the film, was the devastating song-writing prowess of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were the ones who were fundamentally responsible for separating The Beatles from the nine-hundred-thousand-million other (mighty average) bands of the day; which is just one of many, many reasons why Paul McCartney – The Biography, is as idiosyncratically important as it is.

Important for a number of very qualified and varied reasons, one of the most pertinent of which is how the book substantiates the fact that The Beatles were not an overnight success. This is something Sir Paul McCartney made very clear before Thursday’s screening of Eight Days A Week, when interviewed by fellow Liverpudlian, John Bishop.

To be sure, The Beatles honed their craft by having played every superfluous, stinking dive and toilet in Liverpool and Hamburg; before their eventual manager, Brain Epstein, even set eyes on them. A fact which partially accounts for their brilliance, but most definitely accounts for most of today’s artists being pointless and puerile, lacklustre and in truth, fucking awful in comparison.

Then of course, there’s the book’s actual writing itself.

With this being the first actual biography written with McCartney’s approval, and with access to family members and friends closest to him, it ought hardly be surprising that it is as good and quintessentially un-put-downable as it is. There again, it was written by Philip Norman, who, along with having written Fiction and a number of Plays and Musicals, previous books include Shout! The True Story of The Beatles, The Stones, Elton, Days in the Life: John Lennon Remembered, The Age of Parody, Buddy: the Biography, John Lennon: The Life and Mick Jagger.

So, a fine pedigree of a writer, but perhaps of more substantiation, one to be clearly be trusted.

Might it be said that at 816 pages – excluding Acknowledgements, Picture Credits and Index – trust and truth will endeavour to go a very long way; especially given all four Beatles’ penchant for having never held back and for having always told it as it truly was.

So as one can probably imagine, the five parts of this veritable tomb of information (‘Stairway to Paradise,’ ‘The Barnum & Bailey Beatle,’ ‘Home, Family, Love,’ ‘Carrying That Wait’ and ‘Back in the World’), covers nigh every aspect and period of McCartney’s rich and varied life. This also includes the good, the bad and the ugly. The latter of which is traversed amid chapter 53, ‘Even by British tabloid standards, the nastiness has been extraordinary’ – which is an overview of the degree to which the British tabloids had sunk whilst covering McCartney’s divorce from the vile Heather Mills.

But for me, and, I suspect many others, it’s the earlier sections of the book that covers and somewhat analyses the heady days of The Beatles, that invariably makes for the most compelling reading.

For instance, in chapter twelve (‘Did you know he sleeps with his eyes open?’), Norman writes: ”[…] Their innovative presentation, not as lead vocalist and sidemen but four (almost) equals, gave them a wholly unforeseen extra power. On top of their collective charm, each had a distinct character appealing to different sections of their audience: there was the ‘clever’ one, the ‘cute’ one, the ‘quiet’ one and what film producer Walter Shenson called ‘the adorable runt of the litter.’

Together they were more articulate, charming and intelligent – above all funnier – than any pop artistes before, but this alone doesn’t explain the British media’s fixation on them during that rainy summer of 1963. It was a season of unremitting hard news, including the Profumo scandal, the biggest train robbery in history, the thwarting of Britain’s attempt to join the European Economic Community, the resignation of Prime minister Harold Macmillan and the resulting turmoil within the Tory government. Fleet Street initially turned to ‘Beatlemania’ (a term coined by The Daily Mirror) for a bit of light relief, thereby discovering to its surprise that pop-obsessed teenagers read newspapers, too. From then on, there was no surer way to shift copies.

Today, the ‘-mania’ tag is attached to any pop star, or other sort of star, who draws an ardent crowd: ‘Justin Bieber-mania,’ Leonardo DiCaprio-mania,’ One Direction-mania,’ Prince Harry-mania,’ etc., etc. But in the sleepy, orderly Britain of the mid-twentieth century, Beatlemania truly did seem to verge on the psychotic. And it wasn’t just the Mach-speed rise of the band’s records in the charts, the multitudes who queued for their shows, the incessant shrieks that drowned out every song they played, the volleys of jelly babies that were flung at the stage or the rows of seats left drenched in female urine.”

A sanctified, pop-induced image of a bygone era, does the above most accurately depict – just like that of Ron Howard’s just released docu-epic, Eight Days A Week. But where Philip Norman’s Paul McCartney – The Biography differs, apart from the fact that it’s a book, is its overall appreciation and analysis of the Beatles, followed by a more than considered continuation of McCartney’s life since.

Other than being a read that is cool and commendable, analytical and ambitious, it’s simply breath-taking on scope.

Fantabulous. Yeah Yeah Yeah.

David Marx

1971 – Never A Dull Moment

1971

1971 – Never A Dull Moment
Rock’s Golden Year
By David Hepworth
Bantam Press – £20.00

          It was the best of times because in many respects it seemed to be the first of times.

What an utterly inviting, engaging and rather revelatory read 1971 – Never A Dull Moment has turned out to be.

As a regular reviewer of books, it can become relatively easy to slip into the subliminal slipstream of literary nonchalance, whereby the many inexorable words on the page are no longer punctuated by any form of inspired attraction. Although such is most certainly not the case with regards this glittering testimonial to the year 1971 – the year David Hepworth has described as ”rock’s best year.”

To be honest, it’s hard to disagree.

One need only randomly refer to any of the book’s twelve chapters (one for each month of the year along with a Prologue and an Epilogue) to ascertain just how idiosyncratic, how invigorating, how very, very valuable and important, popular music once was. A time when the music industry, and dare I say it, society at large, wasn’t so (kn)obsessed with a plethora of boy-bands and/or wailing tarts – for whom the parameters of music continues to entail nothing other than a cloying cleavage and all the vocal finesse of Benito Mussolini.

Reason being, 1971 was still a regal time of unquestioned innocence; which Hepworth is (unsurprisingly) keen to already alert us to in the very first chapter ‘January,’ wherein he writes: ”Smokers every where. On tube trains, in pubs, in offices, even in hospitals. No joggers, no health shops, no gyms, no leisurewear, no trainers, no mineral water, no Lycra, no fast food, no obesity. Wiry people […]. The only people with tattoos got them in the services […]. No security industry. No gates on Downing Street, no full body scans, no surveillance cameras, no speed bumps. Football fans pay two bob at the turnstile and then shove […]. no political correctness.”

No political correctness, yet there was still such a thing as society.

There again, Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet of Einsatzgruppen hadn’t yet arrived to evoke such sullen economic mockery amid the myopic naivety of the working class. No wonder rock’n’roll meant precisely that: rock and fucking roll.

Four blokes like The Who, making a great B-I-G colossal noise that actually meant something. That actually endeavoured to at least traverse such opium dullness as that of today’s grey, dull, barren, not to mention seismically redundant excuse of a pathetic music industry.

Indeed, from The Who’s Who’s Next to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, from Carole King’s Tapestry to Led Zeppelin’s IV, from The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story, from Pink Floyd’s Relics and Meddle to John Lennon’s Imagine; in 1971, there really wasn’t, as this book’s title more than aptly suggests, a dull moment.

As Hepworth states in the book’s Epilogue: ”The middle of the road was the only place to be. Underground was over ground, anything could be a hit. It was into this moment of panic and opportunity that all these 1971 masterpieces were hurled […]. If my twenty-one year old self could have been transported from 1971 to 2016 he would be struck dumb by the laptops, the phones, the affluence, the foreign tongues on the street, the idea that music could be accessed as if from a tap, the fact that three out of five stories in the news were about the sex lives of famous people and the puzzling realization that he couldn’t just go out on Saturday evening and buy a ticket on the door for any show in town.”

The high-octane realization ought to surely be the fact that there are no shows in town actually worth going to, while those that are, cost somewhere in the region of almost a hundred pounds per ticket…

To be sure, one could conclude that for those of a certain age, 1971 – Never A Dull Moment is a truly terrific book; but to be perfectly honest, for anyone remotely interested in the truth and what the sanctity of music once meant (and perhaps, could once again), this book will and ought to appeal to those of any age.

David Marx

The Beatles in 100 Objects

100 objects

The Beatles in 100 Objects
By Brian Southall
Carlton Books – £25.00

Having already written about Brian Southall’s Abbey Road and Beatles Memorabilia – The Julian Lennon Collection, I have to confess to being somewhat intrigued by this relatively new book on the greatest band on the planet, which comes courtesy of a completely different angle.

Other than Andy Babiuk’s excellent 2002 publication of Beatles Gear – All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio and the aforementioned Julian Lennon collection, I can’t really think of a book that concentrates purely on Beatles stuff, things and objects. Admittedly, there was Ringo’s 2005 Postcards from the Boys, but not only was that compiled by an actual Beatle, it was more literary and highlighted the somewhat idiosyncratic insight into the band’s zany, personal and at times, rather affectionate communication.

The Beatles in 100 Objects has been put together from the premise of a more than fascinating compilation of things, many of us might already know and/or be familiar with. Like John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce (a hippy car with all the mod cons) and George Harrison’s painted guitar ‘Rocky’ (a paint and nail varnish job). Althjough more than that, Southall was lucky enough to dig deeper and stumble upon an array of interesting, Beatles related memorabilia – much of which sheds new light.

On page seventy for instance, there’s a replica of a signed Star Club menu, which apart giving early sixties, German drinks prices, clearly marked the end of an era: ””We outlived the Hamburg stage and wanted to pack that up,” said John Lennon. ”We hated going back to Hamburg those last two times.”” While on page 174, there’s a reproduction of Liverpool Airport’s Overcrowding Notice of Friday 10th July 1964 – which again, has been signed by all four members of the band: ”Over 200,000 loyal Beatles fans lined the route from the airport to the city centre and Paul McCartney observed, ”We landed at the airport and found there were crowds everywhere” and went on to say, ”It was incredible because people were lining the streets that we’d known as children, that we’d taken the bus down or walked down. And here we were now with thousands of people – for us” […]. In 1986, ten years after the airport had been privatized, the original terminal at Liverpool airport was replaced with a new building and in March 2002 Liverpool Airport was officially renamed John Lennon Airport.”

From McCartney’s handwritten recording notes for ‘Hey Jude,’ to yet another signed item, the Parlophone promo card (A label for life);’ from Ringo Starr’s Abbey Road ashtray (which he kept beside his drum kit), to the four personalized luggage tags The Beatles were given by Trans World Airlines (during their 1965 Back in the USA tour), The Beatles in 100 Objects is made up of exactly what it says on the cover.

As a result, the book makes for fascinating reading and is as such, nigh un-put-down-able.

The one-hundred objects themselves, have been reproduced in full quality colour on the right, while on the left, Southall depicts the details as well as the story behind each and everyone. So other than being a mighty fun read, it also acts as a great reminder – as the author writes in the book’s Introduction: ”So here we have a book which doesn’t just bring together for the first time a unique collection of objects which illustrate and highlight the life and times of The Beatles in a new and informative way but also reminds at least one senior citizen – and everybody else who is remotely interested in the most golden years of pop music – of how it was back then… when The Beatles ruled the world.”

David Marx

The Complete Beatles Songs

beatles

The Complete Beatles Songs
The stories behind every track written by the Fab Four
By Steve Turner
Carlton Books – £30.00

As a huge Beatles fan for as long as I can remember, I’m still learning varying, mighty interesting things about the band as the years hurtle by. This is oft aided and abetted by articles in the quality newspapers every now then, along with yet another book release written from yet another perspective. But in the ultimately B-I-G scheme of things, it’s the astoundingly brilliant music they wrote that traverses all things, which is where this absolutely wonderful book comes into play.

I’ve previously reviewed a couple of Steve Turner’s books on The Beatles, although I have to say, this altogether majestic 340 pages (excluding Discography, Bibliography, Index of Song Titles, Credits & Acknowledgements and Song Credits), really is going to take some beating.

Along with Ian MacDonald’s superlative Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties (1994), Turner’s  The Complete Beatles – the stories behind every track written by the Fab Four will probably set the literary/musical bench mark really high so far as its explanation is concerned.

Compiled in inevitable chronological order and compartmentalised by album (including Live at The BBC and Anthology I – III), this is a publication which traverses nigh every aspect of The Beatles song-writing prowess, written by someone who is clearly a fan, clearly in love with their musical output.

In the book’s Preface for instance, Steve Turner immediately writes: ”In another sense, every time I hear a Beatles song feels like the first time I’ve ever heard it. The elements of surprise in the tunes that made them so captivating when they were first released still sound unexpected. They have a magical capacity for retaining their freshness, and they seem to have been able to do the same for succeeding generations. They are songs very much of the era and culture they were created in but also able to transcend that era and that culture. I feel enormously privileged to have my work printed alongside the work of The Beatles but I’m under no illusions. They did their bit without me. I couldn’t have done my bit without them.”

I’m compelled to write that most bands and (serious) singer/songwriters, couldn’t have done their bit without The Beatles. From The Rolling Stones (who back in the sixties, emulated their every move) right through to Radiohead, the band remain responsible for a menagerie of musical influence to this very day; although it started with that of a rather simplistic approach – which the author substantiates in the very first chapter, Please Please Me: ”Although they naturally drew on their own experiences as they wrote lyrics, they did not at this time feel any compulsion to reveal their hidden selves, write words that could be judged as poetry or compose messages for alienated youth. Their keen concern was to emulate those songs that had proved their worth by becoming hits. They stuck to conventional subject matter, used variations of phrases that had worked in past pop songs and deliberately targeted the emotions of their young female followers. The words of a song were deemed to ”work” not simply because of what they said but because of the pleasing and appropriate sounds they made when sung. Words had to contain their own music.”

As mentioned at the outset of this review, it’s always a pleasant surprise, if not a joy, to stumble upon some musical or personal revelation: ”’Tell Me Why’ was written to provide an ”upbeat” number for the concert sequence in A Hard Day’s Night. John thought of something the Chiffons or the Shirelles might do and ”knocked it off.” It’s a typical John scenario. He has been lied to and deserted. He’s crying. He appeals to his girl to let him know what he’d done wrong so that he can put it right. Children whose parents either leave them or die suddenly are often left with a feeling that they must in some way be responsible. ”If there’s something I have said or done, Tell me what and I’ll apologize,” John sang. Paul later assumed that there was an element of autobiography to it.

It was only when he underwent Primal Therapy in 1970 that John came to terms with these subconscious fears. Therapist Arthur Janov set him the exercise of looking back through all his Beatles’ songs to see what they revealed of his anxieties. On his first post-therapy album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, he was able to sing about these traumas in their original context in songs such as ‘Mother,’ ‘Hold On,’ ‘Isolation’ and ‘My Mummy’s Dead.”’

Suffice to say, many Beatles fans might already know about the stories behind many of the songs, but for me personally, I still find it interesting and more than compelling to re-read, re-learn or be reminded of where and how, so many of these great songs came into being: ”Two events during 1964 had a profound effect on John’s writing. The first was hearing Bob Dylan’s music in Paris during January, when Paul acquired The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan from an interviewer at a local radio station. Paul had heard Dylan’s music before through his student friends in Liverpool but it was the first time John had heard it. After hearing Freewheelin’, Dylan’s second album, they bought his debut album Bob Dylan and, according to John, ”for the rest of our three weeks [in Paris] we didn’t stop playing them. We all went potty on Dylan (Beatles For Sale).

As well as being something of a hefty tomb of a book – reproduced with some terrific colour and black and white photographs – The Complete Beatles Songs is a terrific read, simply jam-packed with quotable quotations.

To say it’s almost un-put-downable, is a colossal understatement; what isn’t though, is the fact that every Beatles fan should own a copy.

David Marx

More Letters Of Note

Letters

More Letters Of Note –
Correspondence Deserving Of A Wider Audience
Compiled by Shaun Usher
Canongate Books – £30.00

If nothing else, this simply wonderful book reiterates the degree to which an entire medium of literary beauty has, for all intents and rather depressing purposes, almost disappeared.

Letter writing, that all too brilliant and potentially poignant pastime, does indeed shed oodles of inadvertent light on who ever is doing the writing. Alas, the mere fact that most letters are quintessentially naked, accounts for their being real and revelatory, personal and perplexing, as well as idiosyncratic and, dare I say it, unnecessarily insulting – if not a tad over the top.

The following 1973 letter (‘Your Type Is A Dime A Dozen’) to Anthony Burgess from none other than Hunter S. Thompson, being a surprisingly perfect example of the latter:

Dear Mr. Burgess,

Herr Werner has forwarded your useless letter from Rome to the National Affairs Desk for my examination and/or reply.
Unfortunately, we have no International Gibberish Desk, or it would have ended up there.
What kind of lame, half-mad bullshit are you trying to sneak over on us? When Rolling Stone asks for ”a thinkpiece,” goddamnit, we want a fucking Thinkpiece… and don’t try to weasel out with any of your limey bullshit about a ”50,000 word novella about the condition humaine, etc…”
Do you take us for a gang of brainless lizards? Rich hoodlums? Dilettante thugs?
You lazy cocksucker. I want that Thinkpiece on my desk by Labor Day. And I want it ready for press. The time has come & gone when cheapjack scum like you can get away with the kind of scams you got rich from in the past.
Get your worthless ass out of the piazza and back to the typewriter. Your type is a dime a dozen around here, Burgess, and I’m fucked if I’m going to stand for it any longer.
Sincerely,
Hunter S. Thompson

Suffice to say, not all of the letters throughout this meticulously designed and rather handsome book are of a similar persuasion. I merely wanted to clarify the degree to which honesty prevails throughout these 351 pages, by quoting the above (somewhat colourful communication) in its entirety.

Naturally, there are numerous flip-sides to that of the above.

Richard Burton’s profound proclamation of love towards Elizabeth Taylor amid ‘You’re Off, By God,’ more than substantiates as much: ”You may rest assured that I will not have affairs with any other female. I shall gloom a lot and stare morosely into unimaginable distances and act a bit – probably on the stage – to keep me in booze and butter, but chiefly and above all I shall write. Not about you, I hasten to add. No Millerinski Me, with a double M. There are many other and ludicrous and human comedies to constitute my shroud.”

As does ‘It’s Burning Hell Without you,’ in which Dylan Thomas writes to his wife Caitlin Thomas from New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel: ”There is nothing to tell you other than that you know; I am profoundly in love with you, the only profundity I know. Every day’s dull torture, & every night burning for you.”

From record producer Steve Albini writing to the band Nirvana, the poetess Sylvia Plath to her family, Marge Simpson to Barbara Bush, John Lennon To Eric Clapton, William Burroughs to Truman Capote, Samuel Goldwyn to Walt Disney and countless others, More Letters Of Note is an outstanding, veritable merry-go-round of personal missives. Replete with a number of excellent photographs and reproductions of some of the letters (including John Lennon’s and David Bowie’s), all of them clearly have something to stay.

A few of which will forever remain in the memory.

None more so than a letter written by US President, Abraham Lincoln (‘Sorrow Comes To All’), to a distraught 22 a year-old, Fanny McCullough whose father, Lieutenant Colonel William McCullough, had been killed in America’s Civil War: ”It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.”

David Marx